As I’ve stated on here many times, I don’t have cable TV. So, obviously it’s pretty difficult for me to watch many games during the season. I’ll listen on the radio pretty regularly, but it’s just not the same. That’s why, on Friday, on mostly a whim, I opted to come down to Tacoma to visit with family and friends and catch as much Mariners baseball as I possibly could.
Thanks to Friday’s game being ungodly long, I was able to get in front of the tube in or around the 5th inning. On the drive to the house, I got to listen to the M’s rack up 5 runs in that fifth on the radio. I know it’s early, and we’re still talking about a .500 ballclub, but it’s very encouraging to see these types of offensive explosions. I think, in the end, more often than not we’re going to be dealing with this kind of streaky, hot/cold type of hitting team. But, when they’re ON, it’s going to be some fun baseball to watch.
In that 5th, seven consecutive Mariners reached base. Of those seven, three of them went for extra bases, including a double by Bay, a triple by Saunders, and a double by Guti. I know there are question marks surrounding the entirety of the Mariners’ lineup, but I feel like if these guys can continue to be strong contributers, we’re going to win more games than we lose. Everyone expects the numbers of Seager, Morse, and Morales to be pretty strong, but those three guys won’t be able to do it on their own. Getting quality production from the rest of our outfield will be key if we want to stay in contention down the stretch.
The first five games of the season showed us exactly our worst nightmare going into this season with regards to starting pitching. Felix dominated, as he should, in his first game. Iwakuma was very strong in his first game, which we more or less expected based on his second half last season. Then, we ran into Saunders …
I know this is going to sound like the type of Instant Reactionary opinion of a fool, but I’m convinced that Joe Saunders is going to be the Hector Noesi of 2013. Maybe not in the sense that he’s going to get rocked on all his 0-2 counts, but very much in the sense of his overall sucktitude. He’s like the worst possible combination of Horacio Ramirez and Jeff Weaver in terms of being a veteran with absolutely no stuff whatsoever.
And, let’s face it, I don’t think anyone was really all that jazzed at the time of his signing. At best, we hoped he’d replicate Jason Vargas, except without the strikeouts (which, admittedly, isn’t really Vargas’ game either, but at least he has an out-pitch). After that, I think we kind of just took it for a given that THAT’S what he’d be for us. A steady innings-eater who would keep us in most games. I know that’s what I’ve been writing about for some time. Maybe that was just wishful thinking taking over my homer brain. Maybe we need to consider that he’s just going to be a bust, and we’re going to be absolutely miserable every fifth day until Danny Hultzen comes up and takes his spot.
I’ve noticed with Major Leaguers, they go through month-long streaks. If his first game is any indication, Joe Saunders could be in for a sub-par April. Can he afford it? And will his numbers stabilize once the calendar flips? If not, he might not make it through May.
After Saunders, we saw Maurer’s debut where he kind of got hit around a little bit. Most everyone is chalking that up to it being his first-ever Major League start. I’m inclined to go with that. Pretty soon here, he’s going to remember what got him up here and he’ll flip that switch. I think he’ll be fine.
Then, we closed things out with Beavan on Friday. Beavan barely went five, giving up most of that 5-run lead the Mariners gave him in the top of the inning by giving up four in the bottom of the 5th. That ultimately led to a battle of the bullpens. I still don’t know how the Mariners came away with that win, but thank God for Guti.
So, five games in, we had two good starts and three shitty ones. That’s a nasty trend that can’t continue, especially when you turn the rotation back over and Felix has one of his rare clunkers. Felix just didn’t have his best stuff yesterday, and that’s going to happen (especially in Chicago, for some reason – thankfully, that’s the only time he’ll be there this year). When that happens, then you’re looking at a snowball effect you don’t want to see too much from this team, lest everyone starts getting discouraged.
They’re going to be REALLY fucking discouraged if they keep underproducing at the plate during Felix starts, that’s for damn sure. This bullshit has gone on long enough. And this offense should be better than that! We all want Felix to have his first-ever 20-win season. So, step your games up, offense!
Today, we have Iwakuma going. Ending this road trip 4-3, going into the home opener tomorrow, would be beyond huge. We would have done that against the defending AL West champs and in the band box that is U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago (where we almost never win). That’s something to hang your hat on when the good vibrations start at Safeco tomorrow at 7.
I’ll be there. It’s a tradition that’s only 3 years strong, but growing. Of course, since we seemingly always start the season on the road (I thought the whole reason for the retractable roof was so we could get most of our home openers on the ACTUAL opening day, to reduce the chance of a rainout by one game), we won’t get our best pitcher starting the game. But, at least I’ll be able to boo Joe Saunders in person.
Then again, maybe tomorrow is his real test. He’s facing an Astros team that has set the Major League record for most strikeouts by hitters in the first five games of a season. If Saunders can’t make mincemeat against those guys, we should probably pull the plug on him right then and there.